By Kay Braddock
The recent death of longtime Terry resident Bert Lee brought back many happy youthful memories.
To me, and certainly to many others, Bert Lee was a very important man. Among his varied mile marker endeavors, which included owning and operating the Terry Drug Store, serving as administrator for the county hospital and earning the reputation of a world-class bowler – Bert Lee was the movie man.
Owning Terry’s indoor and outdoor theaters, in my book, was Bert Lee’s most important community contribution. This of course is coming from the fond childhood recollections that he helped create.
I can still clearly picture Bert sitting inside the ticket booth of the old Rialto Theater. In the frigid temperatures of a typical eastern Montana winter, moviegoers stood in line waiting to enter the warm, popcorn aroma filled air of the Rialto. While Bert’s wife Evelyn stood behind the candy counter, waiting on customers, the anticipation of walking down the dimly lit theater aisles only increased.
Going to the movies in Terry wasn’t just an activity. It was an experience. And it’s one that came about, due in no small part, to the ingenuity and go-get-‘em spirit of Bert Lee.
My mind’s eye also pictures Bert Lee cheerfully greeting drivers and their passengers at the ticket booth of the drive-in theater, or setting off the Fourth of July firework display each year, with sometimes 5 minute intervals between each firework.
No matter his physical stature, Bert Lee was the kind of man who could get the job done. And he had the kind of spirit that helped build lasting memories - the ones you hope never to forget.
Published Dec. 1, 2010